Statewatch article: RefNo# 34747
Smart borders? Operation AMBERLIGHT: "Overstaying" in the EU: a problem for internal security and the need for "harmonised" laws which are enforceable - like in JPO Mos Maiorum people will be "apprehended" and sanctioned
Statewatch News Online, March 2015
• "Overstayers" to be checked at external borders in Joint Police Operation (JPO) in April
• "Overstayers" refers to visitors, students and others on visas and undocumented migrants
• Member States to report on: "Further procedure in Member States, and sanctions imposed" - law enforcement agencies will "apphrehend" and sanction people



"Overstayers" to be checked at external borders: Joint Police Operation (JPO): Council: Presidency activity AMBERLIGHT 2015 (LIMITE doc no: 5195-15, pdf)

"The aim of the activity "AMBERLIGHT 2015" is to move towards intensified border checks...[and] seeks to gather information on "overstayers" (third country nationals) at external air borders" (people who stay beyond their visa period, eg: visitors, students or business people). It may be extended to land and sea borders.

The document says that: "No personal data will be collected within the activity" - the same claim was made by the Italian Council Presidency during: Joint Operation "Mos Maiorum": Council's explanation is "economical with the truth" which argued that was only a data collection operation when in fact nearly 20,000 people were "apprehended": The Mos Maiorum JPO: Final report (LIMITE doc no: 5474/15).

The AMBERLIGHT document makes no mention of "apprehending" people who are "concealing the violation"..... But says on p4 that:

"Participating Member States will be asked to collect the following information:

1. Detection details: date, time and place of detection;

2. Information on the third country national: nationality, gender, age and the duration of illegal
stay in Member States (up to one week, up to one month, one year or longer);

3. Modus operandi: third-country nationals try to hide the exceeded duration of residence by
using false travel documents, false/falsified travel documents seized;

4. Routes: third-country nationals depart from Member State, where they exceeded the duration
of residence or they try to depart from another Member State with the aim of concealing the
violation
;

5. Further procedure in Member States, and sanctions imposed."
[emphasis added]

AMBERLIGHT is planned to take place in the period from 1-14 April 2015 or from 18 to 30 April 2015. Amongst the problems is that:

"FRONTEX does not know whether third-country national depart from the Member States where they overstayed or from another one in order to conceal the violation. Furthermore, FRONTEX does not know which Member States’ visas are mostly detected in overstay cases and does not collect data on profile of overstayers."

The document says that to avoid sanctions "third-country nationals often leave the European Union through another Member State" than the one they enter:

"In order to avoid imposing sanctions.... third-country nationals often try to leave the European Union through another Member State of the European Union or a Schengen Associated Country"

It does not seem to occur to the policymakers that a visitor on holiday or a student taking a break before returning home or visiting friends might reasonably, and lawfully, enter the EU in the UK and leave from Greece.

"Amberlight" has been drawn up, and authorised, as set out in this Guide: Guide for Joint Police Operations (JPOs) (pdf)

More background on the issues are set out in: Overstayers in the EU: methodology of gathering statistics; preventive measures; penalties (LIMITE doc no: 5194-15, pdf): The Council Presidency is looking at the harmonisation of laws on dealing with people who overstay their visitors' permit and who may enter the EU through one Member State and exit through another "without an appropriate sanction."

"Overstayers" include "overstays beyond the authorised period of stay, while others concern detections within the EU of third-country nationals who have crossed illegally the border" (that is both visa-holders and undocumented migrants). In 2013 there:

"were 344,888 detections of illegal stay in the EU....The overstayers detected in the EU are third-country nationals who have exceeded the authorised period of stay, most of them being short-stay visa holders...In Q2 2014, there were 100 647 detections of illegal stay in the EU, which is an increase of 15% compared to last quarter and 22% more than one year ago."

However:

"migrants have genuine travel documents and presumably some proportion do not intend to overstay at the actual moment of entering the EU. A large volume of passengers impedes extended controls that would prevent overstaying."

There is a need for "harmonised" law and sanctions because: "The upward trend of overstay detections inland or at exit points, especially in cases when migration provisions are not respected in one Member State and third-country nationals try to leave the EU area via other Member State, reveals the shortcomings in existing legal procedures and the practical processing of such cases at the level of the European Union."


And see: Discussion in the Council: Working Party on Frontiers/Mixed Committee (EU-Iceland/Liechtenstein/Norway/Switzerland) On: 23 January 2015 Subject: Summary of discussions (LIMITE doc no: 5703, pdf) See: Smart Borders Package: Progress report on the preparation of the pilot project and Smart Borders Proof of Concept Testing Phase Terms of Reference and Information by eu-LISA (p2) and Access for Law Enforcement purposes to the EES (p3).

Background

- Commission proposal: Regulation: amending Regulation (EC) No 562/2006 as regards the use of the Entry/Exit System (EES) and the Registered Traveller Programme (RTP) (pdf)

- Commission: Technical Study on Smart Borders: Final Report (pdf) and:

- Commission: Technical Study on Smart Borders – Cost Analysis Final Report (pdf)

- European Parliament: Interparliamentary Committee Meeting "Smart Borders Package: European challenges, national experiences, the way ahead" (pdf)

- European Parliament: Working Document on the Entry/Exit System (EES) to register entry and exit data of third-country nationals crossing the EU Member States' external borders (Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs) Rapporteur: Agustín (pdf)

- The CLANDESTINO Project: Final Report (190 pages, 2009, pdf)

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